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Heartless Lyn @ Great Imaginations

"All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost"

The Golem and the Jinni by Helen Wecker

The Golem and the Jinni - Helene Wecker

Review: Ever since I spied this book in the bookstore, I was instantly drawn to a book that delved into both Jewish and Arab mythology and culture. It was a strange yet appealing combination. Sadly, I did not buy the book as soon as I bought it, but thanks to the yearly book gifting giveaway at Reddit, I was able to finally own this one on my Kindle.
This book was well worth the huge commitment. According to Amazon, the Kindle book came in at a whopping 809 pages.  It was intimidating, but I couldn't stay away from this book for long.
The cultural and historical themes of the book makes this tome well worth reading. Overall, I was pleased with the novel, as a whole.

What Worked

I have to give Wecker some major credit from the start.  Her two main and title characters, the jinni and the golem,  each had a distinct voice.  I have become so use to characters sharing the same voice that I just tend to overlook it. When I do see characters written as completely different individuals, not as a matching set, I have to stop and marvel at the skill and care of the author. 

The rich cultural immersion.  If you are unfamiliar with golems in Jewish mythology, or the true origin of the Arab genie (jinni), then this is a wonderful introduction to the lore from each culture.  I was more familiar with the Jewish history and somewhat acquainted with the Arab tales.  The book touches on the background of the mythical creatures.

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This doesn't count.

The authentic research of the history surrounding the immigration period of New York.  Written at the turn of the 20th century, the Wecker dedicates portions of her author website to the background of the locations in the book.  It is not only entertaining, but also provides a slice of American history.  I enjoyed the genuine glimpse into the cultural salad of the area as well as the story line.

The two characters, the Jinni and the Golem, stand on two sides of human nature.  The female golem is a representation of order, control and responsibility, while the jinni tends to stand for impulse and larger-than-life living.

The range of secondary characters.  I enjoyed a large majority of the background characters as well. 

The ending to the book.  I'm not going to spoil anything, but I was touched with the sentiment of the conclusion.

Expect a huge range of emotions in this one - no feeling is left untouched.

What Didn't Work

The first parts of the novel seemed to drag along.  At times, I felt like rushing through parts of the first few chapters.

One of the characters I ended up loving, Michael, was continually robbed in the entire book, for convenience. I was sore after witnessing Michael's treatment.  He seemed to constantly get the short end of the stick just for simply existing.

In certain parts, the novel almost grew stagnant and seemed to come to a standstill.


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This was very enjoyable, and anyone looking for realistic fantasy should invest in this one.  The author reaches out to her audience with characters who could relate to a wide range of personality types. This novel is ideal for history buffs and readers looking for something new in the paranormal department.
Source: http://www.great-imaginations.com/2014/03/the-golem-and-jinni-by-helen-wecker.html